Seasonal Soup & Salad Recipes ♥ December

Seasonal Soups & Salads for December, a monthly feature ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 Seasonal Soup and Salad recipes, ideas perfect for the month of December, all from A Veggie Venture's decade+ collection of 1300+ vegetable recipes. December's recipes are mostly veg(etari)an and call for easy-to-find ingredients. Find your December salad (and soup!) inspiration here ... graphic button small size size 10

Let's Give the Gift of Salads!

There's a meme flying around Facebook that upends holiday expectations. "Give Presents" turns to "Be Present." "Make Cookies" converts to "Make Memories." My mantra?

Give The Gift of Salads, celebrating the season and gifted with abandon. Somehow salads embody the "hygge" of the kitchen in a way that even summer's freshest garden salads cannot. Simple but sumptuous. Bright with winter color. Wondrous with tastes that are too rich except during the holidays, fresh, crisp greens paired with dried fruits and glazed nuts and tiny bits of pungent cheeses. And so welcomed, before and after resplendent holiday foods. Gift your family, gift yourself, gift everyone you know ... with a salad. I mean it!

About December's Recipe Collection

These are the salad (and soup!) recipes I've shared on A Veggie Venture during December since 2005. The truth is, I don't actually post often during the month of December. Ha! Should it come as a surprise that readers are more interested in cookie-baking than figuring out new ways to cook vegetables?! even if you'll be back in force in January?! So I'm quite pleased with this many-year collection. The salads are perfect for December, as seasonal as you can get. The soups will sustain you through the month, then help welcome in the new year. Happy cooking, all! Tis the Season! (And let the cookie-baking begin ...)

Quick Lists for December

(click right through or scroll down for more information on why I've chosen each recipe)

Seasonal Soup & Salad Recipes ♥ November

Seasonal Soups & Salads for November, a monthly feature ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 Seasonal Soup and Salad recipes, ideas perfect for the month of November, all from A Veggie Venture's decade+ collection of vegetable recipes. The recipes are mostly vegan, quick to make (make all but one in under 20 minutes) and perfect for healthy, everyday eating. graphic button small size size 10

This is a "loaves and fishes" recipe collection, of sort. Its origin is a newish (twelve months or so) meal prep practice that makes my meal planning, shopping, cooking and even clean-up life so so so much simpler. It's an uncomplicated premise: just keep a soup and a salad in the fridge all the time. ALL.THE.TIME. When stuff life happens, at least there's dinner in minutes.

Is it a meal prep routine that might work for you? Maybe. I'm thinking (hoping!) the answer is yes so without further ado, here are my favorite recipes for Soup & Salad meal prep inspiration for November. By happenstance, most are vegan, most take no more than 15 or 20 minutes prep time, and lucky stars, most are Weight Watchers freestyle friendly!

Happy Soup & Salad time, all!

About November's Recipe Collection

Thirty days has September ... April, June and November. So goes the memory device to remind us which months have just 30 days. Thirty days has November! But for all the hoopla, you'd think that Thanksgiving itself took up the entire month, not just one day. (Or if you're lucky, one day plus leftovers.)

So sure, if you're after Thanksgiving recipe inspiration, A Veggie Venture is packed with that.
graphic button small size size 10 NOT TO MISS You mustn't-mustn't-mustn't miss the World's Best Green Bean Casserole! It's the second most popular recipe on this entire site. Plus, it's also life-changing! (On Thanksgiving Day, I'll share why for awhile I was the "green been casserole lady." If that's not a good enough reason to upgrade your green bean casserole this year, I don't know what is!)
graphic button small size size 10 SIDE DISH STARS And besides, don't we all a-d-o-r-e Thanksgiving side dishes?! So you'll want to explore Thanksgiving's Favorite Vegetables (with Favorite Recipes for Each), all organized with make-ahead tips and more.

But for November's other 29 days? Repeat after me: Soups and Salads, Soups and Salads, Soups and Salads.

Quick Lists for November

(click right through or scroll down for more information on why I've chosen each recipe)

SOUPS of the Month – NOVEMBER
Greek Lentil Soup 20min/90min – WW2 – PP2 – SP3 – FS1 – NetCarb7
East African Pea Soup 15min/60min – WW2 – PP2 – SP4 – FS2 – NetCarb20
Quick Green Chile Stew 20min/40min – WW4 – PP6 – SP5 – FS0 – NetCarb22
Turkey & Turnip Soup 5min/5min

SALADS of the Month – NOVEMBER
Marinated Vegetable Salad 15min/24hrs – WW3 – PP5 – SP6 – FS3 – NetCarb26
Harvard Beets 15min/30min – WW1 – PP1 – SP2 – FS2 – NetCarb8
Celery Salad with Dates & Walnuts 15min/14min – WW4 – PP5 – SP7 – FS7 – NetCarb10
Carrot Salad with Pomegranate 20min/20min – WW1 – PP2 – SP4 – FS2 – NetCarb14
Simple 'Sweet Potato' Potato Salad with Hardly Any Mayonnaise 45min/4hrs – WW2 – PP3 – SP4 – FS4 – NetCarb18

BONUS SALAD DRESSING
Apple Cider Vinaigrette 5min/24hrs – WW0 – PP0 – SP1 – FS1 – NetCarb4

Want to Know More?

There's more info about each recipe below. Just scroll down!

How to Cook Quinoa ♥ for Meal Prep

How to Cook Quinoa for Meal Prep ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 Oh friends, we are so going back to meal prep basics here, just some quinoa, some salt, some water, one pot and one stove. Follow this simple technique – just rinse, simmer, rest and fluff – for full, light-textured quinoa every time. Quinoa = A Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Great for Meal Prep. Low Fat. Weight Watchers Friendly & Freestyle Friendly, quinoa is one of Weight Watchers "free" foods. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. graphic button small size size 10

I remember searching high and low for quinoa for the first time twelve years ago – my cousin Lynda had sent the recipe for Acorn Squash with Quinoa & Cherries. I'd heard of quinoa but it was a new-ish thing then and none of the big grocery stores carried it. I finally found a dusty container in what we then called a "natural" food store. (Hmm, have natural food stores gone by the wayside? Who's been in one lately?)

Back then I even mispronounced quinoa "KWIN-oh-ah" or "kwin-OH-ah" instead of the real pronunciation "KEEN-wah". Ha! We do get smarter as we get older, yes?!

I'm definitely smarter about cooking quinoa today. Back then, I cooked quinoa only when it was destined for a particular recipe. Now I cook mostly quinoa to have on hand as a staple, like bread, milk and eggs, like onions, carrots and celery, like ketchup, mustard and hot sauce. Then what? What happens to cooked quinoa the staple?

A plant-based addition to salad suppers, mostly leafy greens and vegetables, a little fruit, a little cheese, usually topped with some variation of the "house ranch" aka Buttermilk Garlic Salad Dressing
Added plant-based bulk and texture for tacos
Added plant-based bulk and texture for oatmeal, either sprinkled on top with fried eggs or turned into our everyday oatmeal, Almost-Chewy Creamy Oatmeal
Added fiber and texture for Our Daily Bread: My Easy Everyday Bread Recipe
One protein component in breakfast protein skillets – recipe coming soon!

IS QUINOA REALLY HIGH IN PROTEIN? I almost wince when people blithely toss off the idea that quinoa is high in protein. Does 4 grams in a half-cup serving add up to high protein in your book? It doesn't in mine, I look for at least 10 grams before I call something "high protein". Don't get me wrong: I love quinoa, as I say, it's a staple here, just not for protein.

Vegetables 101 ♥ The Beauty of Asparagus Berries

The Beauty of Asparagus Berries, another unexpected closeup on vegetables ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 It's no puppy cam or funny cat video but we interrupt the usual vegetable recipe programming to get up close and intimate with ... asparagus berries. Not to eat, just to look at! and learn about! Aren't the fronds and berries just so delicate and pretty? graphic button small size size 10

WHAT ARE ASPARAGUS BERRIES? Asparagus "berries" appear in the fall on the fronds of female asparagus plants. Female plants??? Yes, there really are separate male and female asparagus plants, that makes asparagus one of numerous "dioecious" plants. [Dioecious is pronounced die-EE-shus, it means "two houses" in Greek.] Another dioecious vegetable is spinach; other dioescious plants include cannabis, date, mulberry, ginko, persimmons and currant.

WHEN DO ASPARAGUS BERRIES APPEAR? Asparagus plants produce feathery fronds near the end of the growing and harvest season. Then in late summer and early fall, green pea-sized berries begin to appear on the fronds. As autumn progresses, the berries turn bright red. (As a reference, the photos were taken on October 5th. This year, the berries were still green on October 5th.)

ARE ASPARAGUS BERRIES EDIBLE? No! Just a handful will cause severe digestive issues.

CAN YOU HARVEST ASPARAGUS BERRIES? Botanically speaking, asparagus "berries" aren't berries at all! Instead, they are seed pods, each one holds three or four seeds. This is how asparagus self-propagates. To intentionally grow new plants from these seeds, pick the red berries and allow them to dry naturally in the sun. Then break apart the pod to separate the seeds and work the seeds into the soil in your asparagus garden before frost. (You can also store the seeds inside to plant in the spring.) Berries aside, for better asparagus production during the next growing season, gardeners should trim back the asparagus fronds (including the berries) once they've yellowed and died back in the fall after frost.

SHOULD YOU CULL FEMALE ASPARAGUS PLANTS? The male plants produce a little earlier and are better overall producers. But ... um ... bad precedent, don't you think?

Sweet Pumpkin Seed Crumbles ♥

Sweet Pumpkin Seed Crumbles, a fall favorite ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 Crunchy clumps of oats and pumpkin seeds, more akin to a nut brittle than a breakfast-y granola. Honey-sweetened ... you can actually taste the honey that sweetens and binds the clumps! Seasonal, Absolutely Perfect for Fall. Great for Meal Prep. graphic button small size size 10

Hello, October ... in some circles also known as Pumpkin Month, that precipitous head-first dive into the internet's obsession with all things pumpkin. But it's fun, yes?! (And heaven knows, we can certainly use an apolitical distraction.) I hardly know where to start, except, well, with my already burgeoning collection of pumpkin recipes, where a surprising number fall into the "savory" category. That said, it's the everyday pumpkin pancakes and muffins and donuts and quick bread which garnered the biggest smiles when I took a table poll last week. Go figure.

And because there are oats in Sweet Pumpkin Seeds Crumbles, you might even call this a granola. But I already have a recipe for Pumpkin Granola that employs the moisture in pumpkin purée and the warmth of autumn spices for a seasonal but still-traditional granola.

But these? These are Sweet Pumpkin Seed Crumbles, more akin to Turkish Sesame Candy or an almond brittle than either Pumpkin Granola or the house recipe for granola, Homemade Granola with Almonds & Apricots.

In fact? Sweet Pumpkin Seed Crumbles are not a "breakfast" granola at all. Instead, they're one of those "extras" that I meal prep and for the third year now, find ever so easy to find uses for during these last months of the year. (The rest of the year? The light and airy Maple-Glazed Pecans, so-so good!) I just love that bit of slightly sweet crunch for:

A bowl of butternut squash soup or a fall salad, just a sprinkle on top makes all the difference
Some sautéed fruit, maybe atop morning oatmeal or creamy custard or baked apples
A charcuterie platter
A simple scoop of ice cream

Warm Lentil Salad with Spinach & Goat Cheese ♥

Warm Lentil Salad with Spinach & Goat Cheese, another easy, delicious meal prep salad ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 Oh people, what a salad! Better news still, it's made with common pantry ingredients, you may well have all of them in your fridge right this very second. It's just familiar lentils, the meaty ones that have such a great chew, paired with still-crunchy sautéed vegetables and barely cooked spinach and laced with pockets of melting goat cheese. Warm Lentil Salad is way more than the sum of its parts! Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Great for Meal Prep. Low Fat. High Protein. Naturally Gluten Free. Weight Watchers Friendly & Freestyle Friendly. Vegetarian. All this and dee-lish! graphic button small size size 10

Way way wayyyyyyyy back in 2007, I shared an earlier version of this wonderful Warm Lentil Salad. It was A Veggie Venture's second anniversary – and April Fool's Day, hence the "apparent" recipe, Ooey Gooey Caramel Chocolate Marshmallow Triple Cream Ricotta & Marcarpone Cheesecake in a Brioche Puff Pastry Baklava Crust with a Double Layer of Lemon Curd and Topped with Candied Raspberries and Toffee-Tossed Pecans and a Venetian Honey Hazelnut Butter Sauce. But is anyone surprised that my healthy lentil salad took second seat to all that sugar and butter? Ha! No surprise at all.

So here's the recipe again, because a salad this basic, this healthy, this good, deserves first billing. It's another classic-Alanna recipe, one that's easily adaptable based on what's on hand and what's in season and what you like. The essentials are simply the lentils, (preferably "meaty" lentils such as French green lentils aka lentilles du Puy, a standby in my kitchen) and the vinegar-brightened vegetables. Even the goat cheese – as lovely as it is – is optional if you're counting calories or don't have any on hand.

I usually make a double batch. The first night it makes a lovely bed for roast chicken –– or let's be real, shall we? –– a still-warm rotisserie chicken. After the first night, it's a welcome salad of substance for the supper salad bowls that happen so easily thanks to daily attention to meal prep versus cooking dinner.

One thing I wrote in 2007 and bears repeating, now and often, is this:

To all those who read and inspire what's found in these pixels and who encourage and befriend me, I thank you, I thank you truly. Do I mean you? Yes, YOU, I thank YOU. Who would believe that after thirteen years, I can still be completely obsessed by vegetables? In so many ways, it feels like I'm just getting started!

COMPLIMENTS!
graphic button small size size 10 "...it was DELICIOUS!" ~ RandiBeth
graphic button small size size 10 "I've made this lentil salad recipe several times and loved it." ~ Cindy

Mexican Cauliflower “Rice” ♥

Mexican Cauliflower Rice, more Mexican meal prep ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 Cauliflower Meal Prep! Turn a head of cauliflower into a stand-in for rice for Taco Tuesday and so much more. We love this dish, so healthy, so flavorful. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Freestyle Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly. graphic button small size size 10

LET IT BE SAID Mexican is a totally food-prep friendly cuisine! When we did a month-long deep dive into Mexican cooking last spring, what fun – and the easiest cooking I've ever done in my entire life. (Want to know more about that project? See Deep Mexico: Ingredient-Driven Mexican Meal Prep. )

A big reason is that I'd do some meal prep every day. After that, dinner (and lunch and especially breakfast) kind of made themselves.

One of our favorites then (and still, four months later) was Mexican Cauliflower "Rice" – not rice at all, of course, but one of cauliflower's many low-carb chameleon acts. Cauliflower doesn't just masquerade as rice but also as potatoes, even chickpeas. There's a whole section here with all my cauliflower recipes. Check them out!